The impact of Politics 2.0 in Spanish social media: tracking conversations around audiovisual political wars


José M. Noguera
Catholic University of Murcia, Spain

Beatriz Correyero*
Catholic University of Murcia, Spain


In modern electoral campaigns all over the world, Internet has turned into one more tool for the parties and candidates. After the consolidation of weblogs as interactive narratives and producers, audiovisual formats are gaining ground on the Web. Videos are spreading all over the Internet and establishing themselves as a new medium for political propaganda inside social media, with tools so powerful like YouTube. This article demonstrates how video is emerging as a vehicle for promoting the political process into the Spanish blogosphere, and how political videos have a special way of travelling around the blogs.

This investigation proceeds in two stages: on one hand we are going to examine how this audiovisual formats have enjoyed an enormous amount of attention in blogs during the Spanish pre-electoral campaing for the elections of March 2008. On the other hand, this article tries to investigate the social impact of this phenomenon using data from a content analysis of the blog discussion related to this videos centered on the most popular Spanish political blogs. Also, we study when the audiovisual political messages (made by politicians or by users) “born” and “die” in the Web and with what kind of rules they do.

Since the beginning of 2007, Spanish parties are using video on their pages or on YouTube, not only to create states of opinion to a sector of the population that surfs the Internet, but to gain and maintain political and media attention and to wake up the political apathy of the young people. Sometimes popular contests had been the source of inspiration for creating videos that pretend to ridiculize the adversary. For instance, we can see the video of the Socialistic Youth to promote the subject of Education for the Citizenship. Paradoxically, the slogan of this polemic video is: "For the equality, for the coexistence: Education for the Citizenship YES".

We can also see audiovisual formats used to sell proper merits of the candidates like Zapatero’s last video distributed on Internet called “Con Z de Zapatero” and the engraving for Rajoy owing to the National Holiday. Both parties have started a war of videos that will take place up to the general elections of March. Both know that traditional rallies keep on being necessary, nevertheless, every time they give more importance to the new technologies, that's why videos are playing an essential role in this electoral campaign.

Our methodology to describe that role begins with a selection of ones of the most important Spanish politicians blogs. According several ranking tools, we collect web sites like Escolar, Periodistas21, Eurogaceta, Internet Política and others. In our sample we gathered different kind of blogs, made by journalists, teachers, politicians and just users of the Web. With this sample of blogs, we get the most popular tags in the political conversations around the audiovisual messages selected.

After that, we choose too a sample of videos made by the most important Spanish parties (PSOE and PP), we tagged their contents and we start to follow how people (social media) use these messages. In addition, the conversations are studied with tools designed for tracking the buzz, like Technorati, Google Trends, Meneame (the Spanish version of Digg) or YouTube. Our aim is not to value the efficiency of the audiovisual political campaigns in the Web, but we want to track the type of tour that realize the political messages in the blogs. And to obtain this kind of data could be a very interesting information for people which are working designing political campaigns for the social media in Internet.

Since Joe Trippi started a “political campaign 2.0” for Howard Dean in USA, we have a lot of examples about how politicians want to make profit in the social networks. Virtual worlds like Second Life or networks like Facebook are just one of the platforms which politicians want to explore. And in a World Live Web everytime more “visual”, the audiovisual political wars are an evident reality, in Spain too.

Often, the aim of these messages is to obtain more visibility in the mass media, but at the same time the result in the social media might be of unexpected consequences and even, it might turn in opposition to the own politicians which designed the message. Political parties begin to measure the potential of the social nets, but these "audiovisual wars" in the Web are still a part of a phase of experimentation.

What kind of criteria follow the success for the visibility of the political messages in the Web? We are talking about a kind of collective social credibility? Are the social media able to identify the aims of some political messages? Are the users “trained” to make good spaces for the political debate? Do the institutional political messages arrive to these political spaces? Spanish blogosphere can show us the answers to these questions if we observe its behavior during a political campaign.